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Monday, March 14, 2011

Feeding Fish (AKA Golden Piranhas)



By Goldenpuon:

This is an comedic narrative essay I (goldenpuon) wrote for a college class. It is about my experience feeding my goldfish. (They are crazy about food I might add.)


Dinner for My Golden Piranhas

It is 6:00 PM. It’s time to feed the fish! As I grin and wonder what antics I will see from my goldfish this evening, I recall why they are so dear to me. My beloved pets were once feeder fish that were raised for the sole purpose of being eaten by larger aquatic animals. But did that mean the inch-long creatures were treated well? No, the poor souls were packed like sardines into small tanks with hundreds of other sick and malnourished individuals. Many lay dead in heaps or weakly flailed their fins in the filter’s current. They were pushed into aquarium walls, other debilitated fish, and even cannibalized by their famished brethren. That is when I became involved. I was on a mission to save the few goldfish I could. I hand-chose the most active and disease-free fish I could find and took them home.

It has been years since the goldfishes’ rescue, and they have blossomed. They have completely lost their fear of humans and gladly accept food given by hand. The fishes’ scales shine, their bodies are plump, and they really seem to enjoy their spacious, clean aquarium. I have done a great service by saving these animals’ lives. This realization brings me even closer to these critters that are as precious to me as any dog or cat.

I suddenly cease daydreaming. It is now a quarter after six. I have mouths to feed! I jump up from my computer desk and scamper to the kitchen cupboard. Using my right hand, I grab the cupboard door knob and hastily swing it open. I eye the cabinet’s contents only a second before I spot my desired quarry: Omega One Goldfish pellets.

After I snatch up the container of food, I close the cupboard door just gently enough not to make a racket. I stride over the old, blotchy kitchen tile. Then I set the fishes’ evening meal on the spotless countertop ledge adjacent to my forty gallon aquarium. I can already see the fish swarming to the left side on the tank they are always fed on. I run back over the discolored tiles and to the nearly spotless kitchen sink. I twist the cold water knob on full force, speedily rinse my hands in the cool water flowing from the faucet, and once more sprint across the kitchen to the tank. After thoroughly drying my hands on a thrice-used yellow rag, I twist open the lid to the aliment and place the lid face-down on the counter.

By now, the ever more gluttonous and eager goldfish are feverishly dancing near the glass. A white little fish paces up and down in frenzy, jerking its entire body eagerly from side to side. Another opens its round, capacious mouth and franticly nibbles on the glass. The largest, orange fish even forgets itself and gives its small silver friend a hardy nip. The rest of the goldfish madly speed through the water carelessly bumping and prodding one another. “You’re silly fish!” I laugh as I give my aquatic pets a caring grin. I reach my hand into the food container and seize a few dozen tiny pellets between my thumb and index finger.

I hold the pellets firmly in my hand to prevent them from dropping to the thick, beige carpet, where they are difficult to spot. At this point, the fish have lost all sense. Eight wild savages beg for their meal at the speed of light. They jostle near the water’s surface with crazed ferocity as they mindlessly smack and strike one another with their fins and bodies. Slowly, the eight goldfish─ still side-by side and miraculously uninjured─ make their way to the water’s surface.

Smiling to myself, I lift the translucent plastic lid of the tank and slide my hand inside the aquarium. I hear clicking and popping noises as a two goldfish nibble at the surface, envisioning that the object of their desire. Casually, I dip my hand into the cold aquarium water. Eager mouths are ready. I smile as several of the toothless creatures bite at my fingers with all their might. I have no concerns about the fish hurting me; even their most forceful bites don’t leave a mark on my hand. Still, their antics, love of food, and reckless, piranha-like behavior amuse me. As I ponder what drives them, I release the fishes’ dinner.

After this, chaos ensues once more. Fish dash for slowly pellets slowly descending to the tank bottom. They rush to gobble up as many bits as they can. Several of the fish practically inhale three pellets at once. Another greedy food-addict nips a tangerine-colored fish’s mouth in hopes that the harassed fish will spit out its partially digested meal. After I screw the lid back onto the Omega One Goldfish pellet container and deposit it safely back into the cabinet, I amble back to the aquarium.

There is no provender left in sight. None is floating in the water column, motionless on the aquarium bottom, or concealed among decorations and green and yellow leaves. However, the ambitious quest for left-overs will persist for a minimum of three hours. I gaze in awe at the fish poking their heads into bushy plants’ fronds, scouring every inch of the tank bottom and sides with their mouths’, and even taking an occasional nibble at the cylindrical filter intake tube. I wave at the fish to both to be silly and express how much I love my goofy, single-minded pets.

After fifteen minutes, I step back from the aquarium. I gaze around the living room until I spot my mother slouched forward on an armchair, carefully reading over paperwork. “Want to know what the goldfish did?” I ask excitedly as I do every evening. She turns away and peers closer at the documents, visibly tormented by my constant talk about fish. But I don’t give her reaction much thought. I merely shrug and return to the aquarium.

Two of the goldfish abandon their futile search. They swim up to me, wiggling their fins in greeting, but not with as much enthusiasm as before. I shake my head. Their calmness will be short-lived. As soon as I disappear from sight, these two will join the other savages speedily foraging once more.

Crazy goldfish, I rescued you, and your behavior has forever changed me. Without me, none of you would have ever experienced the comfort of a clean tank or known the heart of a caring human-being. If I had not seen the terrible suffering in that tiny tank and taken you home, I would not be the person I am now. Golden piranhas: the creatures that form the fishy center of my world.


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